Outside groups spent near $8 million to influence NC primary election

Posted by John Frank and David Raynor on May 5, 2014 

A final flurry pushed spending from outside groups in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate over $7.8 million, according to FEC records.

The total doesn’t include the millions more spent by candidates and so-called “dark money groups” that air ads without explicitly supporting or opposing a candidate.

One of the largest last-minute expenditures came from Grow NC Strong, a super PAC supporting Republican Thom Tillis. It spent $95,000 on a media buy Friday, four days before the primary vote, Federal Election Commission reports show.

The group is backed by allies Tillis helped appoint to the UNC system governing board and American Crossroads, another super PAC supporting Tillis.

FreedomWorks also made roughly $12,000 in final expenditures to help rival Greg Brannon. Tea Party Patriot Citizens Fund also spent about $10,500 on robo calls Sunday attacking Tillis.

All told, outside groups spent about $9.7 million in North Carolina this primary season. The total was second only to Florida at $11.9 million, reports show. Nine dollars out of every $10 spent to support or oppose a candidate went to television ads, a News & Observer analysis found.

Outside the Senate race, more than $1 million was spent in the Walter Jones-Taylor Griffin race for the Republican nomination in the 3rd Congressional District.

But the Senate race is driving the spending. Thom Tillis had $3.2 million spent against him and $2.5 million spent in support, the most of any primary candidate.

Democrat Kay Hagan – who is barely facing a primary race, but is a factor in the GOP contest – was the candidate with the second highest total at $540,000 in support and $1.4 million against.

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